Let’s regret our movie viewing decisions.
The Pale Door is the cinematic equivalent of a stomach-ache. There is no fun to be had and you wonder what you did to deserve such a fate.
The broad story is a band of moronic robbers are led by a witch back to her coven to be slaughtered. While you might think this sounds kind of like From Dusk Till Dawn it would be wise to leave that idea at the door. This is a failed facsimile of better films without the talent, interest, plot, point, or humor.
Nothing works here. Even the somewhat interesting broad ideas are so buried and defecated upon by the film’s end that it is hard to muster anything positive to say. Really, the only thing they did right was cut a trailer that somehow made this look like it might be fun. I’m honestly a little impressed at how good trailers are getting at making shit movies look okay.
Let’s start with the acting. We follow two Dalton brothers who seem to have some inseparable bond despite one not wanting to be a criminal and the other reveling in it. How this dynamic formed is skipped through the magic of time jump, and we are thrown headlong into a cliched gang that needs the younger brother to help for reasons (even though he does nothing). The characters all seem like rejected NPCs from Red Dead Redemption 2. They are all wearing clean and pressed “western” outfits and speak in clichés. There is no characterization within any of them, and when some start getting killed, you’ll realize you didn’t even know their names.
The worst of the bunch is when we meet Cotton Mather in a flashback, who puts absolutely no emotion into his speech. The actor genuinely seemed to be reading these lines for the first time. So much of the film seems to be done in a single take that it makes you wonder what issues they had in funding. (A further bummer about Mather is that real stories around him and the persecution of women would make for interesting filmmaking).
Stilted dialogue and bad characters don’t make for compelling filmmaking. Mix in some of the worst gun sounds (cap guns sound better) and terrible directing the film truly becomes a slog. It fails miserably at two distinct genres. There are no scares. This is a horror movie in set design only. As for a western, it does a worse job than even the worst of syndicated television.
The film seems to want to pull on American folklore-at least the design of it. We get images of ritual, history, and inquisition, but none of it ends up meaning anything. We end up with a film that seems to be a collection of drunken notes from someone who perused Wikipedia on American and European witch folktales.
I can’t believe this film was even released. It is honestly so bad that I worry being involved with it will hurt the actors and crew who were trapped in such an incompetent nightmare.
Do yourself a favor and completely avoid this joyless mess. A terrible film all around.